It’s always bewildered me to realize that most people haven’t tried eating cat food at all.
You know that your cat’s pupils dilate and lock onto the dish as you prepare the food, their excitement intensifying as the aroma wafts into their veritably quivering nostrils. It’s natural to wonder what they’re experiencing and why they like it so much. While we can’t completely understand what our cats are thinking, we can try to see life through their eyes by taking part in the things they love.
But if you’re like most people and would rather not taste-test cat food yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Through firsthand sampling and by consulting the experiences of those who have tested it, we will answer this important question.
“What do humans think about the flavor of cat food?”
Before we dive into discovering the solution to this problem, let’s get something else out of the way.
Is it safe to eat cat food?
Most pet foods are certified feed-grade, which means that they are manufactured in a facility not subject to regular checks by the USDA and are not subject to the over 100 regulations that dictate the safety control practices surrounding the manufacture of human foods. Ingredients that go into feed-grade products which would never pass into human food include such unsavory inclusions as non-slaughtered animals. Sometimes I hear people calling these “dead animals” – but of course, the problem isn’t just that the animal is no longer alive. What we’re worried about is animals who died under unknown circumstances or worse. Some pet foods include meat from animals who have been euthanized.
Remember the Evanger’s scandal involving dogs dying after consuming food that contained phenobarbital?
While not all feed-grade foods are bad – it all depends on the integrity of the individual manufacturer – the regulations on most pet foods are much looser than those imposed on human grade foods.
Everything in them, however, is just as bad for your pet as it would be for you to eat.
Raw food is your cat’s ideal diet – it aligns perfectly with their biological dietary needs, nourishing them on their own terms.
After thousands of years of consuming raw prey, cats are naturally well-equipped to handle the consumption of fresh raw meat, organs, and bones. Humans, however, have more delicate digestive tracts and immune systems that put us at risk of getting sick from bacteria and parasites that have contaminated the raw meat. And of course, we have a very difficult time consuming raw bones.
It’s not the safest choice, but when prepared properly, raw meat can be perfectly suitable for human consumption.
Raw meat is the real cat food.
A lot of you have had steak tartare or sashimi and will already have the first answer to the question of “what does cat food taste like?” – if we’re going to talk about your cat’s biologically appropriate diet, this is it.
Muscle meat has a subtle flavor, while the organs will have a more savory bloody taste, and the bones are almost flavorless. Served fresh, your cat’s instinctual diet will be virtually odorless and, aside from the risk of pathogenic bacteria and textural concerns, perfectly appealing to the average human palate.
When we go into processed cat food, you’ll start seeing more variation.
A low-quality food made from inferior ingredients will have a far less palatable flavor than one crafted from human-grade ingredients. A low-quality dry kibble, for example, tastes like a corn meal base, with vague fish and savory meat overtones and a hint of saltiness.
Canned food can be either tolerable or completely revolting to human tastes, again depending on what variety you get.
It’s all subjective. Let’s get a few varied opinions from the fantastic individuals who have tasted their cat’s food so that you don’t have to.
Louise Hung is a superstar cat food taste-taster/daredevil.
She shared a colorful account of her experiences on Catster. Here are a few particularly edifying moments from that article:
While mixing up some dehydrated fish and turkey cat food that smelled like a really weird Thanksgiving dinner, I got a little bit of the gruel on my fingers, and licked off a smidge with my tongue.
You know that “yuck shiver dance” thing you do when you taste a gamey, bland-yet-salty glob of mush? Or you know, when you eat something everything in your being is telling you, “DON’T EAT THAT!”? Yeah, I did that. It was not good.
Here’s what she has to say about cheap dry cat food:
When I was a teenager, I popped some cat-food kibble into my mouth (I think it was something by Purina). It was almost tasteless and very crunchy. I couldn’t really taste the chicken in it, and really the overwhelming flavor to me was how I imagine cardboard would taste.
As the quality of the food increases, you will generally find that it becomes more palatable. Real food flavors start to stand out. Since a low-quality “beef dinner” cat food may contain only 25% beef, it’s understandable that those beef flavors won’t stand out much.
Here’s a video from the fantastic Jae and Adrienne of Two Crazy Cat Ladies, in which Adrienne does a blind taste taste of a couple of different varieties of Weruva canned cat food, which is a high-quality brand.
And another video from Facts in which people react to consuming cat food. Their reactions might surprise you!